Neologisms, Buzz Words & Slang

Anger as Motivation for Writing

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
Language is ever-evolving, with trendy words appearing to describe behaviour, status and obscure objects of desire. Sometimes, the words are amusing, other times insulting. Slang terms can be used to disguise illegal activities and drugs.

It can be problematic, knowing how to include street language and fresh words in our stories, for unless they're widely known, it means explanations. In my Cornish Detective novels, there are lots of abbreviations derived from police terms, such as FLO for Family Liaison Officer. Cornwall has a plethora of strange expressions, as well as its own language, which I judiciously sprinkle in the dialogue. For example, emmet means ant in Cornish and is applied to the summer holidaymakers who swarm into the county.

Oxford Dictionaries recently named youthquake as their word of the year. It describes major social change brought about by youngsters with a conscience.

'Youthquake' named 2017 word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries

Some neologisms have been around for so long, that it's easy to forget they were once trendy portmanteau words, such as brunch—a combination of breakfast and lunch. Other, more recent portmanteau words have a brief life, before disappearing, maybe because they're clumsy to pronounce—such as refudiate which addle-brained Sarah Palin conflated out of refute and repudiate.

I get annoyed by some new words and expressions, especially when they're a mishmash of language, though others have grown on me, such as "you can't unsee" for taking in a dreadful sight. Initially, that sounded horribly contrived, but then I remembered that we've all been saying "you can't undo" for centuries.

Some fantasy worlds will have special languages invented for them, while real-world ethnic communities are differentiated by their language.

How do you handle trendy words?

Have you devised a language for your fantasy or science-fiction?

Which neologisms do you like?

Which trendy words drive you mad?

I'm careful when I use trendy words or buzz words because their shelf life can't always be predicted. The book could sound outdated or simply confusing in a short time if the wrong word or phrase is overused in it.
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Anger as Motivation for Writing

Hachette Open submissions window